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Occupational Diseases Among Hairdressers

People donít often think of hairdressers as having dangerous jobs. If anything, people are likely to think that a hairdresserís client is at more risk of injury or problem as a result of an improperly performed service than the hairdresser coming to harm. However, in studies on Occupational Disorders and Diseases common among hairdressers, the results show that many hairdressers (as many as 1 out of every five, in some studies) suffer from an illness directly related to their occupation.
 
hairdresser cutting hair These conditions range from allergies, rashes and irritations caused by prolonged or repeated exposure to chemicals, or frequent hand washing, to infections contracted from clients who have hair and scalp disorders. Some of these conditions are common and while nuisance level, are not life-threatening. Others can be life-long illnesses and dangerous if ignored or undiagnosed.
 
Studies done in Eastern Europe a few years ago showed that in nearly 70% of the patients (all in the hairdressing field) who were given patch tests for a variety of substances common to the hairdressing profession showed a positive test result for sensitivity (allergic reaction) to one or more of the substances.
 
Here are some of the more commonly found conditions affecting hairdressers:
 
{Note: This is NOT to say that these conditions WILL be found, and many of them require a failure in following sanitation and sterilization guidelines to be transmitted. For this reason, it is PARAMOUNT that any stylist or esthetician follow the health and safety codes for his or her region strictly, and that customers should be carefully questioned about any potential illnesses. And most importantly, you should never perform a service on a client if you question anything regarding the look of their skin or hair from a health standpoint. If you are in doubt at all, DO NOT accept the client for service.}
 
Contact Dermatitis:
 
This is an irritation of the skin caused by repeated contact with irritants or allergens. In hairdressers, this can be sometimes seen as a rash or redness and swelling of the skin on the hands, due to frequent contact with the chemicals used in chemical services such as haircolor and permanent waves, or even shampoos and conditioners. In the study mentioned above, slightly more than 46% of the patients were shown to have contact dermatitis caused by allergic reactions to varied substances to which they were exposed.
 
Allergies:
 
Many hairdressers can have allergic reactions to commonly used substances in the salon setting. What makes this situation problematic is that these allergic reactions can develop rapidly or increase in intensity with repeated exposure. The reactions may manifest in a number of ways, from rashes and irritation (see Contact Dermatitis above) or in respiratory episodes. It is important to read the OSHA safety guidelines for any and all chemicals used in the salon Ė from hair-related products to cleansers and sanitation chemicals.
 
If a product recommends the use of gloves, use gloves. The frustrating part of this advice is that the materials used in various types of gloves can also be allergens. You should always keep different types of gloves available for different situations. Some individuals may have (or can develop) allergies to latex, while others may be sensitive to vinyl (pr PVC), and still others may have or develop a sensitivity to the powder contained within the gloves to allow them to be more easily donned. Keep a variety on hand to allow for continued safety, and to allow those without specific allergies to vary the use of products and prevent excessive, repeated exposure.
 
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